In the same summer that Jeremy Lin felt the highest of highs in basketball after winning an NBA championship with the Toronto Raptors, he also experienced the lowest point when he didn’t get signed to a single team during free agency. At an event in Taiwan, Lin gave a tearful speech about how he felt the NBA had “ .”
With so much movement around the league this offseason, it made sense that Lin couldn’t land on a team as there were far better players ahead of him getting contracts. However, it’s not as if Lin cannot play in the NBA. He’s proven throughout his nine-year career that he can provide valuable contribution to an NBA team, once as a starter but now more suitable for a bench role. So Lin’s 40-point preseason debut with his new team, the Beijing Ducks, shouldn’t be surprising but instead a reminder of what he can do.
Yes, it’s a preseason game, and, yes, there are other players who have a stronger case for being on an NBA team right now — Carmelo Anthony would like to have a word — but Lin’s case isn’t weak either. Aside from his injury history, Lin proved to be a reliable backup point guard on several teams, and was a serious threat in the pick-and-roll game. He doesn’t put up monster numbers on a regular basis, but his ability to shoot the 3 at a decent clip, use his speed to get to the basket with ease and utilize his court vision were solid enough reasons to secure a 3-year, $38 million contract from the Brooklyn Nets in 2016.
Lin is a far cry from his “Linsanity” stint with the Knicks that earned him national attention, but there are several teams in the league, some of which Lin has already played for, that could use his services coming off the bench. He’s a guy that comes into the game, and, according to Hawks head coach Lloyd Pierce, makes an impact.
“I call him the stabilizer,” Pierce said via The Athletic. “He’s been a guy that coming off the bench, his experience, you know what you’re going to get from him especially in pick-and-roll. Whether we’re up or down what he does is he comes in and just impacts the game immediately just staying within himself.”
There have been several NBA players who have gone overseas to continue their professional career and become superstars within that environment, with some getting the call back from the league for another shot. Michael Beasley has bounced back and forth between playing in the NBA and in China, getting second and third chances despite never living up to his No. 2 overall draft selection. Most recently, Jimmer Fredette got a two-year deal from the Phoenix Suns last season, after spending the previous three years playing in China. Fredette’s second-year team option wasn’t picked up by the Suns, but if he’s able to get a seat at the table when Lin has had a far better NBA career than him, there should be no reason there isn’t a spot for Lin, too.
If Lin can build off this 40-point opening performance with the Beijing Ducks, the NBA will have no choice but to give him another shot.